Celebrating a career of more than four decades, multiple Grammy awards, and a reputation for stylistic exploration and innovation, legendary vocal quartet The Manhattan Transfer has been awarded Honorary Life Membership in the Barbershop Harmony Society. The award will be made in New York City on June 20 at a concert commemorating the group’s 45th anniversary.
“The Manhattan Transfer’s distinctive vocal style has brought close harmony and classic jazz repertoire to wide audiences for more than 40 years,” said John Miller, chair of the Honorary Member Committee. “We applaud and honor their commitments to education initiatives that keep kids engaged in constructive, esteem-building efforts to create, communicate and develop and grow. They are global ambassadors of the beauty and expressivity of the human voice. As the Barbershop Harmony Society celebrates its 80th anniversary, we are proud to welcome a group that so powerfully represents our ideal of Everyone in Harmony.”
The Manhattan Transfer takes its place alongside other Honorary Life Members of the Barbershop Harmony Society — performers and leaders who make an impact on the world through their passion and influence on close harmony and singing for everyone. Notable vocal groups and individuals inducted include:
- Grammy Award-winning gospel quartet The Fairfield Four
- The Nylons, pioneer a cappella pop stars
- The Oak Ridge Boys, country megastars
- The Osmond Brothers, variety musical stars (who started as a barbershop quartet!)
- Mike Rowe, television host and producer
- Deke Sharon, a cappella godfather
- Dick Van Dyke, Grammy/Emmy/Tony Award winning actor and singer
- Jim Pike of classic vocal group The Lettermen
- Bob Flanigan, classic vocal group The Four Freshmen
- Bill Gaither, gospel music giant (Gaither Vocal Band)
- Gordon Lightfoot, folk/pop superstar
A legendary career
Defying easy genre categorizations, The Manhattan Transfer became the first act to win Grammy Awards in the pop and jazz categories in one year (1981) for “Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal” for “Boy From New York City” and “Best Jazz Performance Duo or Group” for “Until I Met You (Corner Pocket).” In 1985, their album Vocalese made history as the single greatest Grammy-nominated album in history in one year with 12 nominations, winning “Best Jazz Vocal Performance, Duo or Group”; and “Best Vocal Arrangement for Two or More Voices” for “Another Night in Tunisia” (won by Bentyne and Bobby McFerrin). This album, which featured jazz legends Dizzy Gillespie, Ron Carter, and the Count Basie Orchestra, changed the perception of The Manhattan Transfer from superstar pop artists to formidable jazz singers.
While well-renowned for their spectacular re-imaginings of classics like “Java Jive,” “Birdland,” “The Boy From New York City,” “Twilight Zone,” “A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square” and “Route 66,” one of their most acclaimed albums was 1991’s The Offbeat of Avenues, which featured numerous group originals amidst the cover songs.
In 2018, The Manhattan Transfer released The Junction, a new album which draws inspiration in part from The Transfer’s classic 1975 version of Glenn Miller’s “Tuxedo Junction.” The Junction features the group’s newest member, bass vocalist Trist Curless, who joined the group when late band founder Tim Hauser fell ill in 2013; officially joining after Hauser’s passing in late 2014. Curless (formerly of m-pact), joins Janis Siegel (alto), Alan Paul (tenor) and Cheryl Bentyne (soprano), as they release a collection of songs that includes five selections that the members wrote or co-wrote themselves. The Junction was produced by five-time Grammy winner — vocalist, film composer, arranger and producer Mervyn Warren.
Coinciding with the release of The Junction is a highly-anticipated national tour; and PBS Special titled “The Summit,” which features Take 6 in a dual show. Part of the public television network’s legendary Soundstage concert series, “The Summit” was taped before a live studio audience at WTTW’s Grainger Studio in Chicago in January 2017. The two groups, which have been touring their richly produced, interactive vocal extravaganza for the past three years, create a unique brotherhood onstage, with songs incorporating their combined 10-part harmony, lively segments including “Battle of the Bands” and a repertoire that includes songs neither band has ever recorded.
About The Manhattan Transfer • www.facebook.com/ManhattanTransferOfficial • www.manhattantransfer.net
Contact: Lori Lousararian LLousararian@rogersandcowan.com
About the Barbershop Harmony Society • www.barbershop.org • Contact: Brian Lynch firstname.lastname@example.org
The Barbershop Harmony Society is the world’s largest all-male singing Society, with approximately 20,000 members across North America; affiliated men’s and women’s organizations in more than a dozen countries bring the total number of active singers to more than 80,000 worldwide. Through active programs in music education, publishing, performance and outreach, the Society preserves and extends the reach of a uniquely American close harmony musical art form whose roots lie in African-American improvisation and European harmony traditions. Founded in 1938, the Society now expends nearly $1 million annually in support of community and school programs that bring the fellowship, fulfillment and excitement of vocal music to a new generation of singers.